Assistant Head Coach
2005 - Utah
Assistant Head Coach
2009 - 11
2003-04 - Southern Utah
2002 - Brigham Young
2001 - Eastern Arizona
Special Teams Coordinator
2005 - Emerald Bowl
2006 - Armed Forces Bowl
2007 - Poinsettia Bowl
2008 (2009) - Sugar Bowl
2009 - Poinsettia Bowl
2010 - Las Vegas Bowl
2011 - Sun Bowl
Kalani Sitake (pronounced ka-lah-nee sih-TA-kay), the first native Tongan defensive coordinator in the NCAA FBS, is in his ninth season at Utah and his fifth as the defensive coordinator. Named the assistant head coach in February 2012, he also coaches the linebackers, a position he has overseen since joining the staff in 2005.
Sitake has maintained Utah's longtime tradition as one of the top defensive teams in the nation, most notably in the last two seasons against the prolific offenses of the Pac-12 Conference. Of Utah's 16 final top 25 national rankings since he became the defensive coordinator in 2009, seven have come in two years as a Pac-12 member.
Those top 25 rankings include: 2009--pass efficiency defense (9th), opponent third down conversions (9th), pass defense (16th), total defense (19th), scoring defense (23rd); 2010--opponent fourth down conversions (3rd), rushing defense (10th), opponent first downs (10th), scoring defense (25th). 2011-- interceptions (6th), scoring defense (19th), rushing defense (20th), pass efficiency defense (24th); 2012--opponent fourth down conversions (11th), fumble recoveries (19th), rushing defense (22nd).
In their first Pac-12 season in 2011, the Utes led the conference in scoring defense, pass efficiency defense, interceptions and fourth-down conversion defense, while finishing third in total defense and rushing defense. Last year, Utah led the Pac-12 Conference in opponent first downs and opponent fourth down conversion defense, while placing second in rushing defense and fifth in total defense.
Sitake has coached eight first-team all-conference picks (five Mountain West Conference, three Pac-12 Conference), five NFL draft picks, the 2011 Morris Award winner and two Freshman All-Americans.
Sitake's first-team all-MWC defenders were linebackers Spencer Toone (2005) and Stevenson Sylvester (2009), linemen Koa Misi (2009) and Christian Cox (2010), and safety Robert Johnson (2009). His Pac-12 first-team all-conference defenders were both defensive linemen: Star Lotulelei (2011, 2012) and Derrick Shelby (2011). Lotulelei also won the Morris Award as the Pac-12's top defensive lineman in 2011.
Sitake protégés are now found on several NFL rosters. Lotuleli was drafted by Carolina in the first round with the 14th overall pick, Misi (Miami) was selected in the second round, Johnson (Tennessee) and Sylvester (Pittsburgh) both went in the fifth round, and Toone (Tennessee), R.J. Stanford (Carolina) and Joe Kruger (Philadelphia) were seventh-round picks. Shelby (Miami) and Dave Kruger (Cleveland) are undrafted free agents on NFL rosters.
Sitake's Freshman All-Americans--both true freshman safeties--were Brian Blechen in 2010 and Eric Rowe in 2011.
He has also earned a reputation for his recruiting abilities and 247Sports named him to its Class of 2012 Top 50 recruiters.
Sitake came to Utah after two seasons assisting at Southern Utah in 2003-04. He coached the Thunderbird running backs and tight ends in 2003 and the offensive line and tight ends in 2004.
He began his career at Eastern Arizona in 2001 as the defensive backs coach and special teams coordinator, and coached two junior college All-Americans (one first team). In 2002, he went to Brigham Young as a defensive graduate assistant.
Los Angeles, Utah, Florida
Sitake started at fullback all four years of a Brigham Young career that spanned seven years. He played as a freshman in 1994, followed by an LDS Church mission. He returned for the 1997 season and started the first three games before undergoing back surgery and redshirting. He was a regular in the starting lineup in 1998, 1999 and 2000 - missing the last two games of 1999 after breaking his leg against Wyoming. He was named BYU's Football Scholar-Athlete of the Year in 1998, Impact Player of the Year in 1999 and team captain and Most Valuable Running Back in 2000. He went to the Cincinnati Bengals as a free agent in 2001, but was forced to retire due to a back injury.
Brigham Young, 2000
Bachelor of Arts in English
Hometown: Laie, Hawaii and Provo, Utah
Birthplace: Nukualofa, Tonga
Attended Kirkwood HS in St. Louis, Mo.
Birthdate: Oct. 10
Family: Married to the former Timberly Friddle. Daughters Skye and Sadie; son Kelaokalani (KK).